Sarasota Herald Tribune photo, 2001 archives
Sarasota Herald Tribune photo, 2001 archives
The life of Dr. Gene Pillot was celebrated July 10, 2009, at a memorial service at Incarnation Catholic Church. The Class of 1970 provided a beautiful standing flower spray, appropriately composed of orange floral accents.  Several members of the class attended the service to honor Dr. Pillot and his family.  As many of you are aware, Dr. Pillot's oldest son, Mike, is a member of our class.

While Dr. Pillot was principal of Sarasota High School only during our sophomore year, he is remembered by many of us as our finest.  He commanded our respect with his intelligent and thoughtful approach to the administration of our school and earned our affection by showing each of us his personal interest.

Dr. Pillot was a visible presence on campus not only during regular school hours, but also at athletic and other extra curricular activities.  Despite the fact that we were only 15, Dr. Pillot treated us as young adults, not children, and we responded to that.  He seemed very old and wise to us as sophomores; in fact, he was just 37 at the time.

Dr. Pillot, along with the rest of us, experienced the desegregation of Sarasota High School in 1967-1968.  As principal, Dr. Pillot must have faced challenges that we can only imagine.  We all remember, however, his decision to expand the cheerleading squad to ensure that both black and white students were represented.  This decision remains today as a vivid expression of his singular leadership at a time of social unease.  His actions attested to his commitment to doing what was right.

Dr. Pillot was not only a man of intellect but also a man of faith.  The Book of Ezekiel writes: "If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right,. . .he will surely live."  Dr. Pillot surely lived and, by his example, showed us all how to live.  This is his legacy:  one to which we can all aspire.